Food world superpower Rachael Ray spent last weekend hosting events at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, but she’s back in Manhattan to run her yum-o empire. We caught up with her in between tapings for the Rachael Ray Show; consider her New York Diet “SoBe and the City.”
Thursday, February 19
Thursday was the burger bash so I ate 22 bites of 22 burgers. I had several favorites. I really liked Spike’s — he swept three categories — with the smoky, chipotle barbecue sauce on it and onion rings. It really was a great burger. I liked Bobby Flay’s very much, too. It had a potato bun with blue cheese sauce on it. I really loved these little tater tots from SW Steakhouse. They had Gruyère cheese in them served with chili ketchup. Rick Bayless had a queso fundido burger. There wasn’t a bum in the bunch. Shake Shack took it up to a double decker this year; they added portobello mushroom. I actually enjoy their original better, the classic Shack burger, with that back-in-the day taste.
Friday, February 20
After 22 burgers, Friday was kind of a not-so-much-food day. I took a long walk on the beach with my friends and we walked up to the Raleigh Hotel and I had a skirt steak with Chimichurri and watercress salad. I liked the peppery watercress. It was pretty good. I stole lots of grilled asparagus from one of my other lunch mates because it was super tasty and smoky.
Then my husband had a gig that night and we had more of Spike’s good cooking. Spike came and cooked Smokehouse sliders. You’d think I’d be really sick of burgers. It was weird that all I did eat on Friday was eat more meat. I don’t know, maybe once I got it in my system I couldn’t get enough of it. I tasted some of the wines from one of the sponsors, Seven Daughters. I drank a lot of water. I didn’t want to get dehydrated and wake up with no voice and no energy.
Saturday, February 21
I had a very full day Saturday. I had two huge iced coffees. Then I had four events: A panel discussion, a kids’ cooking glass, an adult cooking class, and a book signing. I didn’t eat much all day actually, just gallons of iced coffee, and fistfuls of vitamins and fish oil, washed down with grapefruit juice. I’ll get my iced coffee from whatever’s the closest, literally, I’m not picky. That day it was Starbucks.
That night, I really wanted to go out to one of my favorite restaurants, Escopazzo. It’s an all-organic Italian place. I was trying to muster up energy for going out to dinner and another fabulous party with all the SoBe chefs, but I just couldn’t deal. I was exhausted. We ordered up to the room from this little restaurant called Lime. We had a variety of soft tacos — a little bit of everything: steak, fish, chicken — and dips, and quesadillas. We just had a couple of our close friends over and hung out on the rooftop and had some Coronas.
Sunday, February 22
Sunday, that was a very long day because the flights were all delayed. I didn’t eat breakfast. I had a couple of crackers at the airport, you know, waiting for your plane. I didn’t have much of anything, just a lot of water.
Ha, it’s so boring. I actually eat more when I’m home because I cook three to four meals a day and then I go home and I make dinner pretty much five nights a week; this is a pretty dull food diary. It was a lot of travel that day. When I finally got home, we called Dévi. It’s our favorite Indian restaurant and we were rooting for Slumdog Millionaire to win best picture. We had it delivered so we could watch the Oscars in our PJs. We had them send over whatever they like. My favorite thing is the fried okra salad: crispy fried okra with a tomato and onion salad that sits on top. The chef sent over a couple of his favorite things. A bunch of different naan breads. Some tandoori lamb with a bunch of different chutneys. Saag paneer. And something in a spicy curry sauce. And, luckily, Slumdog did win.
Monday, February 23
Monday, Tom Jones, I’m his hugest fan. I’ve had a crush on him since I was 3. We’ve been lucky enough to be introduced a few times so we went out because he was coming to town to perform the next night. We went to La Masseria, a nice Italian place in the midtown area, which was convenient for them; they were staying close by. It was he and some of his friends and me and my husband and a couple of our friends. We had a family-style Italian supper. We had Brunello to drink. I was married in Montalcino, Italy, and Brunello’s my favorite wine. They sent out a huge antipasti with fried zucchini, just long strings of crispy zucchini that almost looked like fried spaghetti. They sent out a little taste of two pastas for the whole table. A few bites of a lovely tagliatelle with bottarga, one of my favorite things on the planet, and then sort of a spaghetti alla Norma: Eggplant, tomato, basil, and scamorza, smoked mozzarella. Tom had rabbit and I had a chicken, sausage, and mushroom dish, and we sort of shared those. I traded him a little bit of mine for little bit of his. That’s the way you do it in an Italian restaurant; pass around a couple of bites to everybody. I never eat dessert so that was the end of that story. My grandfather was a diabetic and he was my primary caretaker. He never gave up his pasta but he had to watch his carbohydrate intake of course. We grew up on a diet heavy in fish and greens and proteins mixed in with our carbs and we rarely had sweets in the house other than fresh fruit. It’s just not my thing and I’d always rather have another sip of wine and let that be my treat.
Tuesday, February 24
I always have coffee, and grapefruit juice, and vitamins for breakfast.
Tuesday we taped all day.
I have the same thing for lunch everyday: big salad, lemon juice, and olive oil. I eat lunch when I’m on vacation or it’s the weekend or something. I can go out for brunch or make a nice lunch at home. It’s the Italian in me. I just can’t do it during the workday because I need a nap. When you eat lunch in Italy you can go sleep it off. I might have a handful of almonds or pick at something I just cooked if there’s a little bit of down time between segments.
Luckily we were out pretty early for us at 6 p.m. so we got to make it to the Tom Jones show at Terminal 5. My husband suggested an early supper at Cookshop, which is one of my faves. I love all of their sister restaurants too, Five Points, Hundred Acres.
Cookshop was on the right side of town so we went there. We had a really nice bargain Syrah. It was called Ro-Rée, with an accent aigu over the “e,” so it sort of sounded like my name, which I thought was kind of funny. We both had the shaved-Brussels-sprout salad, like a slaw. We shared a mini-white-crispy pizza, and the chef sent out a tiny little tasting of their mushroom risotto with black-trumpet mushrooms and some sunchokes, it was delish. And, I don’t know, I’ve just been in a meaty mood, I had the strip steak with blue cheese and chives. That that was it. I took most of the steak home to [our pit bull] Isaboo to mix in with some leftover rice we had in the fridge.
Wednesday, February 25
Wednesday, the morning and lunch routine and then my husband had a big music showcase so I didn’t eat dinner at all. I went straight to the showcase, a preview for our South by Southwest party.
We went to Onieal’s, a chic, pubby kind of place, with the band and a couple of our friends. They passed around some warm nibbley bits. I think I had a fried artichoke or two, a mini-crab cake, a spring roll. I really just had a little. I had Grey Goose, club soda, and lime. That was it. Went home, went to bed.
Thursday, February 26
Tonight at home, I’m having BLT spaghetti and I have flank steak marinating that I’m going to cook up on the grill and slice. BLT spaghetti: pancetta cooked in olive oil, add onions and little grape tomatoes. Put the lid on the pan until the tomatoes burst. Season with salt and pepper, lots of parsley, lots of basil. Hit it with white wine. Cook that out. Add some starchy cooking liquid. Then you toss it altogether with the pasta and lots of arugula and it kind of tastes like a BLT. You serve the sliced rosemary-balsamic-Worcestershire-olive-oil-marinated flank alongside.